Conference Report by Carol Minton Morris, DuraSpace
Article by John Houghton, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia and Alma Swan, Key Perspectives, Truro, United Kingdom
Article by Michael Rumianek, Universität Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Deutschland and Global Village GmbH, Voerde, Deutschland
Article by Martin Klein, Robert Sanderson and Herbert Van de Sompel, Los Alamos National Laboratory; Simeon Warner and Bernhard Haslhofer, Cornell University; Carl Lagoze, University of Michigan; Michael L. Nelson, Old Dominion University
Article by Colin Webb, David Pearson and Paul Koerbin, National Library of Australia
Article by C. Sean Burns, Amy Lana and John M. Budd, University of Missouri
Editorial by Laurence Lannom, CNRI
Unfortunately, increasing numbers of us are experiencing this year’s particularly brutal seasonal flu (most frequently influenza A, subtype H3N2). The CDC’s latest FluView report and US map show that nearly all states have widespread outbreaks, and these reports don’t include the other winter illnesses that typically plague us, like the common cold, bronchitis, and pneumonia.
As we arm ourselves with flu shots, alcohol hand rub, tissues, and disinfecting wipes, these stats also remind us to please cover our mouths when coughing and sneezing, and to stay home if we feel even the mildest of sniffles coming on. Peak flu season is usually in January or February, and in the wake of this epidemic, we’d like to draw attention to our rapid-peer-review journal, PLOS Currents Influenza, which has an ongoing call for submissions in research related to the 2012-2013 seasonal influenza outbreak.
Now that you’ve triple-wiped down your keyboard, mouse, and phone, let’s have a look at some winter-illness-related research articles published in PLOS ONE within the past year.
Have you ever wondered why flu outbreaks always seem to occur during the winter months in the first place? A paper titled “Relationship between Humidity and Influenza A Viability in Droplets and Implications for Influenza’s Seasonality” may shed some light on the matter: listen to a featured podcast about this article in Scientific American, posted just last month. In this study, researchers investigated the relationship between humidity, a characteristic that can vary with temperature, and the viability and transmissibility of influenza A virus droplets. Researchers suspended the virus in different media and found that it didn’t survive as well when conditions were salty, or when the humidity was between 50 and 98%. However, the virus was extremely viable in mucus, and at conditions below 50% (dry) or above 98% (almost tropical), the virus was also quite viable and happy. The results of this research may explain why influenza outbreaks are prolific in both dry, cold weather as well as tropical environments.
For those of you that haven’t yet been convinced to run out and get a flu shot (cough, shown to be 60% effective, cough), you may be interested in a paper published last summer, showing that at least certain types of flu, like H1N1, may be transmitted before any clinical symptoms are noticeable. The study, “Transmission of a 2009 H1N1 Pandemic Influenza Virus Occurs before Fever Is Detected, in the Ferret Model,” finds that sick ferrets placed close to healthy ones could spread the flu by contact or droplet exposure a whole day before any clinical symptoms appeared. Interestingly, coughing and sneezing had less to do with transmission than did the viral concentration in the ferrets’ noses. Additionally, after day five or six of illness, viral transmission significantly decreased, supporting the idea that it may be safe to return to school or work after the worst of the illness has passed.
A recently published paper describes an investigation into the motivations behind Americans’ tendency to not get flu shots, a behavior that has been troubling and puzzling to both doctors and scientists alike. In “Behavioral Responses to Epidemics in an Online Experiment: Using Virtual Diseases to Study Human Behavior,” researchers created an “infectious disease outbreak” game in a virtual multiplayer online world to study how willing people were to protect themselves during epidemics. Players accumulated points depending on their health status and actions they took, but they needed to spend points to protect themselves and thereby reduce their chances of falling ill. Results indicated that a person was more willing to take self-protective action when the outbreak was severe, or when a prior experience with inaction had resulted in illness. Players were also more likely to take preventative measures if they were less costly, which indicated to researchers that decreasing the cost of the flu shot could ultimately decrease the overall prevalence of the disease.
These articles are just a tiny droplet in the bucket of influenza-related research published in PLOS ONE. Click here to read more research articles on one of the more common types of seasonal flu, the influenza A virus.
And, please stay safe and healthy in these remaining winter months!
Image credit: the H3N2 virus, ID#13470, CDC
Yang W, Elankumaran S, Marr LC (2012) Relationship between Humidity and Influenza A Viability in Droplets and Implications for Influenza’s Seasonality. PLoS ONE 7(10): e46789. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046789
Roberts KL, Shelton H, Stilwell P, Barclay WS (2012) Transmission of a 2009 H1N1 Pandemic Influenza Virus Occurs before Fever Is Detected, in the Ferret Model. PLoS ONE 7(8): e43303. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043303
Chen F, Griffith A, Cottrell A, Wong Y-L (2013) Behavioral Responses to Epidemics in an Online Experiment: Using Virtual Diseases to Study Human Behavior. PLoS ONE 8(1): e52814. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052814
The open access movement tends to talk a lot about sciences. Let’s applaud and recognize the many scholars and initiatives leading in open access in the humanities and social sciences.
The Directory of Open Access Journals lists 1,689 journals under the Social Sciences browse:
The Social Sciences Research Network is one of the largest and most active open access subject repositories:
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy was an early innovator in the creation of a scholar-led open access encyclopedia and the development of the ongoing OA via creation of an endowment fund model (still promising, but as one might guess the financial crisis slowed this approach down a little):
The Public Knowledge Project, initiated by education researcher John Willinsky, created the Open Journal Systems used by about 15,000 journals around the world, about half of which are open access:
Open Humanities Press was an early innovator in open monographs publishing:
This is a very small list – humblest apologies to all of the other important initiatives and people that are missing here. Each and every one of these initiatives is worthy of our support.
This was originally posted to the GOAL open access list.
I thought this was silly at first, but after struggling to do it for my own research, I now think it can be a profound exercise that scientists should attempt before writing their NSF broader impact statements. Here’s the challenge: Explain your research using only the 1000 most common English words. Here’s a tool to keep you honest: http://splasho.nfshost.com/
And here’s my attempt:
The things we use every day are made of very tiny bits. When we put lots of those bits together we get matter. Matter changes how it acts when it gets hot or cold, or when you press on it. We want to know what happens when you get some of the matter hot. Do the bits of hot matter move to where the cold matter is? Does the hot matter touch the cold matter and make the cold matter hot? We use a computer to make pretend bits of matter. We use the computer to study how the hot matter makes cold matter hot.
Update January 17 – note that I am working on a revised submission to conform to the Select Committee’s guidelines and to correct some potential misinterpretations.
Important addition January 17 – it has come to my attention that my section addressing maximum embargoes could be misinterpreted as suggesting a recommended embargo. To be clear, my words are meant to address the absolute maximum for disciplines in the humanities and social sciences where UK based traditional journals do not yet have experience with the common practice of providing free access to back issues. My revised recommendation reads:
On maximum embargoes: an industry norm of free back issues to scholarly society journals about a year after publication appears to be emerging. For this reason, I recommend that a year’s embargo be considered as the absolute maximum across the disciplines. The current 6-month embargo in STM should be retained, and all advice to publishers should clearly indicate that the practice of allowing embargoes is to facilitate a transition to full open access, and that the eventual goal is to gradually reduce and then eliminate embargoes. Embargoes are a concession to existing publishers; the public has a right to access the results of publicly funded research with no delay. (added Jan. 17, 2013).
There will be other changes in my final revision, however this is a particularly important one to note.
The UK House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology has launched a http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/science-and-technology-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/open-access/short enquiry into open access. Following is my response.
The following is intended to illustrate why the permitted embargo should be no more than 1 year at absolute maximum for journals in the social sciences and humanities that do not yet have experience with free access practices. (Added Jan. 17, 2013). This practice of making back issues free is widely practiced by traditional publishers. There is no evidence that providing this access has caused any harm to the publishers. The large and growing number of journals following this practice supports my assertion that this is becoming the standard.
This short inquiry will focus on the implementation of the Government Open Access policy.
The Committee will consider a range of concerns including:
- embargo periods;
- arrangements for article processing charge (APC) funds;
- international issues; and
- risks for learned societies.
The Committee expect to produce an output in mid-February, to inform the development of Research Council UK’s policies.
The Committee has issued a targeted call for evidence to key stakeholders for this short inquiry, any party interested in submitting written evidence should contact the Clerk to the Committee on hlscience at parliament dot uk. The deadline for submissions is Friday 18 January 2013.